Carlyn Vachow loves life and lives it to the fullest, taking on new experiences and challenges on what seems like a daily basis. A native of St. Louis, Missouri and a graduate of John Burroughs School, a school that didn’t field a softball team, Vachow found other ways to compete like being named to the all-state team on the volleyball court as well as participating and honing her skills in club softball.
Between the white lines of the softball diamond, Vachow was selected as a second-team All-NESCAC honoree in 2015. She finished second on the squad with a .333 batting average, while leading the team with 19 runs, four triples and tying for a team-best 17 runs batted in. The three-year catcher finished last spring with 10 multiple-hit games. Headed into her senior season, she owns a career batting average of .332 with 20 doubles, and 64 RBI to go along with 67 runs scored.
Away from the game of softball, Carlyn is active with many other activities at Middlebury. She is heavily involved with Residential Life and Middlebury Mischords, an all-female acapella group. An English and American Literature double major with a minor in Chinese, she studied abroad last fall in Kunming, China. During the past two summers, she has worked with Middlebury FoodWorks, a nine-week cohort fellowship program for students interested in local food and sustainable development, as well as recently serving as a Resident Assistant in the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy for Chinese.
With the little bit of spare time she has left after all of that, Carlyn enjoys cooking and baking.
In this edition of Panther Profile, Carlyn talks about why she chose Middlebury and how she balances athletics and academics. She will also expand on the activities she participates both during and outside of the academic year.
Why did you decide to attend Middlebury?
I decided to attend Middlebury for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that it is an environment where I could pursue my interest in foreign languages and be encouraged to study abroad even while being a student-athlete. I also fell in love with the campus and my future teammates when I visited.
What are some of the factors that sparked your interest in Middlebury? At what age did you hear about the school?
I heard about Middlebury very early on because both of my parents attended the Bread Loaf School of English, but it didn’t strike me that I could actually go to Middlebury until I started thinking about studying foreign languages. I was also aware of the awesome English department and really strong environmental science program, and those all convinced me that Middlebury was the place to be!
What other activities do you participate in on or off campus outside of class and softball?
In addition to softball, I am also in the Middlebury Mischords – the college’s oldest all-female acapella group. This fall semester, I am going to be one of the co-directors of the Mischords.
How do you balance your academic class load with your athletic schedule?
One of the biggest lessons college students learn in college is how to manage time. There are a lot of things to do and a lot of books to read, but there is a good amount of free time. I find that having a little bit less free time because of softball practices and pre-season prep forces me to do a better job budgeting my time.
What are your plans following graduation (internship, job, etc)?
I am not sure what post-graduation holds yet. The current plan is to apply to several programs and jobs that interest me most and see what works out best. There are lots of options and things that interest me, so I am very excited about whatever is next.
Coach Bevere said you have been involved in residential life. Please talk about what you do and some of the roles and different hats you wear.
My sophomore year at Middlebury, I was a Residence Assistant for Cook Commons. I really enjoyed working with the Cook ResLife team and with Cook Commons staff to hold events for the College and the community. I planned and prepared all of the Pearsons Coffeehouse events (a study break event with snacks). I also helped prepare Friday snack for Cook Commons several times. This year, I will be a First-Year Counselor in Battell Hall. This year is going to be a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to working with Cook Commons again!
She also mentioned you have worked with Middlebury FoodWorks in Louisville, Kentucky last summer. This summer, you remained in the community and worked at the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy. Please explain what Middlebury FoodWorks does and what lessons you have taken away from it. Also, please tell us what your experience was like this past summer in Middlebury?
Last summer, I worked at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest near Louisville, Kentucky as a part of the Middlebury FoodWorks program. I had a blast working in Bernheim's Edible Garden and learning about Louisville’s local food economy and system. My mentors in Louisville welcomed me and the other FoodWorks fellows into the Louisville community. It was cool to see how Louisville - a smaller city - is leading the local food movement and making big moves to create a sustainable and renewable food system that benefits the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky.
This summer has been a different experience because I was a Chinese Academy Residence Assistant for the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy here in town. That is a four-week Chinese immersion program for eighth to 12th graders. I took care of 15 girls in the dorm, and helped run activities and events for the whole Chinese Academy.
I learned on the fly how to be a teacher in and out of the dorm in a language that is not mine and not theirs either. It forced me to learn how to communicate with kids in a way that they understand, both linguistically and socially. It was a ton of fun to watch the kids develop their language and social abilities, translate games of four square and their favorite pop songs into Chinese, make jokes and make good friends all in Chinese.